Tamworth's punters have lost more than $17 million to pub and club poker machines in just six months, the latest data reveals. Liquor and Gaming NSW's recent data shows across the Tamworth Regional local government area in the latter half of 2019, clubs made net profits on their machines of more than $11.02 million and hotels more than $5.99 million. Compared to the same period in 2018, the community's loss increased by $242,000 despite having 25 fewer machines. Kate da Costa, the NSW campaigner for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said a concern at the moment is a shift towards online gambling and "free to play" games as people are stuck at home due to COVID-19 concerns. Dr Costa said people need to be aware it is illegal to target Australians for online casinos and pokies. "People should be very cautious because they look legit," she said. "They are ruthless operations scamming people and the government does not have the capacity to regulate and monitor it. "You won't be fined, but you risk losing all your money." Dr Costa also urged people to be wary of free to play games - which are not considered gambling by the government because you don't play to win money back - because the in-app purchases can easily get out of hand. Liquor and Gaming NSW's latest reports covered June 2019 to November 2019 for clubs and July 2019 to December 2019 for hotels. Communities across NSW lost $2.023 billion at clubs and $1.41 billion at hotels. For the same period in 2019, they lost $2.02 billion at clubs and $1.32 billion at hotels. Net profit is the combined profit from gaming machines for all venues within an LGA, and it is not exactly the same as player losses because some larger jackpots are “pooled” when machines are linked across multiple venues and LGAs. However, it is the closest indicator of how much communities have lost on gaming machines.
If your or someone you know needs help contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.